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Travels with an Eriba

The Causeway Coast


T he Causeway Coastal Drive is commonly regarded as one of the best. The whole Drive runs from Belfast to Derry along a rugged and spectacular route. To date we have only mananged to explore the more westerly section from Ballycastle to Magilligan Point. (From Magilligan we also managed a day trp across to Donegal in the Republic of Ireland). Our base was inland near the small town of Dungiven.


Map of the Causeway Coast & Surrounding Countryside


The Giant's Causeway

In the footsteps of giants...



The Causeway

The Story

According to legend the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet.

The Facts

The Causeway is an area of about 40.000 interlocking basalt columns. It’s was the result of a volcanic fissure eruption between fifty and sixty million years ago. We were lucky enough to visit the Causeway twice during our recent visit. On the first occasion, late one afternoon, the weather was somewhat wild and so the stones were rather slippery. The conditions, though, did give us the chance to capture some rather dramatic shots! On our second visit we followed one of the waymarked trails to discover more of the the features of this wonderful landscape and spent time exploring the National Trust Visitor Centre.. Fortunately, on that occasion the weather was kinder to us!



giant's causeway

Kate at the Causeway

How the rocks formed

Around 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleocene Epoch, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive volcanic plateau. As the lava cooled, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillarlike structures, which also fractured horizontally into "biscuits".

Our visit to the Causeway



Dunluce Castle


Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is a now-ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland, the seat of Clan McDonnell. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim (between Portballintrae and Portrush), and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood.


Down House Desmesne & Mussenden Temple


Our Visits to Downhill

We enjoyed our first visit to the National Trust property of Downhill and its environs so much that we made a second trip a fews days later. There is a great deal to explore there in the beautiful setting and in the interesting buildings. Apart from the obvious attractions of the remains of the main house and the Mussenden temple, there are great walks to be had and an interesting gatehouse at the Bishop's Gate entrance with a lovely Bog Garden nearby, to mention just a few..

"The Edifying Bishop"

Downhill began to assume its present form around 1772 when Frederick Hervey (1730-1803) - known as the Earl Bishop from his twin titles of Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry - chose this scenic site to build a country house. He was a somewhat eccentric, colourful and at times scandalous character. Apart from his house building projects (which gave him the "edifying" nickname), he also spent much of his wealth on constructing roads and developing agricultural enterprises in the Derry area.

The Bog Garden at Downhill


Things to See at Downhill Demesne | National Trust

Mussenden Temple

Based on the Temple of Vesta in Italy, Mussenden Temple once held the Earl Bishop's library. It's perched right on the cliff edge, and the inscription reads 'Tis pleasant, safely to behold, from shore, the rolling ship and hear the tempest roar'.


The Mussenden Temple glimpsed from the beach below

Eight More Great Trips

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

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A Trip to Rathlin Island

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Banagher Glen

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Benone Strand

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The Dark Hedges

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Gortmore Viewpoint

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A Day in Donegal

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Hillfoot Campsite Dungiven

This attractive site is situated inthe countryside a short distance from the small town of Dungiven in County Londonderry. The are lovely views of Benbraddagh Mountain and the Sperrin Mountain range. Mervyn, the friendly and helpful owner, keeps the place very clean and tidy. It doesn't surprise us at all that it gets consistently excellent reviews.



©2019 Anne Hargreaves


Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (locally pronounced carrick-a-reedy) is a famous bridge near Ballintoy, County Antrim. It links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede and spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below. It was was first erected by salmon fishermen in 1755

All her life Kate declared she would never dare to cross Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. In her 71st year all that changed! She even took a video as she made her way across! By the time she was doing the return journey the weather had changed - it was raining heavily and it was quite windy, but she bravely stepped forward.


Rathlin Island

Although Rathlin Island is only small (4.5 miles east to west and 3 miles from north to south) it has plenty to offer visitors. It is reached by a scenic 6 mile ferry journey from Ballycastle

This place has something special. It feels so calm here. The air is fresh, the landscape extra-worldly in its abundance. Lapwing circle to our right, a buzzard to our left ..... I start wondering how empty I'll feel when it's time to leave.

Dara McAnulty Diary of a Young Naturalist


Rathlin West Light RSPB Seabird Centre

Four miles west of the ferry landing place is the RSPB Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre. Here there are close-up views of Northern Ireland's biggest seabird colony, with puffins and other seabirds in their thousands jostling for space .

Rathlin Island - a Place Apart





Derry~Londonderry is the only completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest in Europe, Almost 20 feet high and at least as wide, the mile-long oval comes complete with gates, watchtowers, battlements, bastions and huge cannons.

The People's Gallery

The 12 murals that decorate the gable ends of houses along Rossville St, near Free Derry Corner, are popularly referred to as the People's Gallery. They are the work of 'the Bogside Artists' (Kevin Hasson, Tom Kelly, and William Kelly, who passed away in 2017). The three men lived through the worst of the Troubles in the Bogside area. The murals can be clearly seen from the northern part of the City Walls. Mostly painted between 1997 and 2001, they commemorate key events in the Troubles, including the Battle of the Bogside, Bloody Sunday, Operation Motorman and the 1981 hunger strike. Some powerful images are painted largely in monochrome, reminiscent of journalistic imagery. One of the most poignant is the portait of a young schoolgirl, Annette McGavigan, who was killed in 1971 .



Banagher Glen Nature Reserve

Banagher Glen, just a few miles from our campsite, is one of the largest, least disturbed and oldest ancient oak woodlands in Ireland. Ferns and mosses thrive in damp shady nooks along the river banks while twisted oaks cling precariously to the steep cliffs above the Glenedra and Altnaheglish rivers. This reserve holds some of the last fragments of what were once extensive woods covering much of the north-west. Legend tells that a pool here is home to the last snake in Ireland. St Patrick was unable to drive this giant serpent out of the country so instead trapped it forever at this site. The day we visited was a rather wet but very peaceful day.


Benone Strand

Benone Strand is seven miles of golden soft sandy beach with spectacular views of Binevenagh Mountain and Donegal. There is Lough Foyle and Magilligan Point in one direction with Downhill and Mussenden Temple in the opposite.



Gortmore Viewpoint

Gortmore Viewpoint is in a magnificent position situated on the Bishop's Road, which is part of the Causeway Coastal Route. On a clear day the views extend across to Donegal and the islands of Islay and Jura off the west coast of Scotland. . Ths monumental sculpture is located on Gortmore: it is a representation of Manannan Mac Lir. Celtic god of the sea, son of the Irish sea god Lir, He is an emblematic figure of Irish culture.

Gortmore Viewpoint

This is the view over the Magilligan Peninsula at the entrance to Lough Foyle. From Magilligan Point there is a ferry service which operates all the year around connecting Magilligan with Greencastle in Donegal.
Interestingly Magilligan served as the base line for triangulation for the mapping of the rest of Ireland in the 19th century. Colonel Thomas Colby chose Magilligan due to the flatness of the strand and its proximity to Scotland


The Dark Hedges

This beautiful avenue of beech trees in Stranocum, Ballymoney, County Antrim was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century. It was intended as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. They have been used as a filming location in HBO's epic series Game of Thrones


Malin Head

Malin Head (Irish: Cionn Mhálanna) is located on the Inishowen Peninsula, County Donegal, and is the most northerly point of mainland Ireland. Malin Head gives its name to the Malin sea area, familiar to anyone who hears the Shipping Forecast broadcast by the BBC.


Doagh Famine Village

A combination of informative story telling and life size exhibits provides an informative, thought-provoking and at times humorous look at Irish life. Doagh Famine Village tells the story of Irish life from the Great Famine of the 1840s through until the present day. Attractions include original thatched Irish cottages (inhabited as recently as the 1980s), an Eviction Scene, an Orange Hall, a Republican Safe House and an Irish Wake, amongst others.